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The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, with your Lordships' leave, let me say that it is a blessing that we are never in any danger whatsoever of not hearing the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, on whatever matter it may be. I am in some difficulty here. I am in danger of transgressing the rules of order of your Lordships' House because the point raised by the noble Lord, does not feature in this report. I would be in grave danger of severe criticism were I to indulge in discussing all matters which did not arise on a particular report, but which were raised simply because they were not there.

Had I been able to remain within the terms of order, and had I—as I am always anxious to do—been able to assist the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, I would have said to him in those circumstances that we are all very conscious indeed of the difficulties as regards the acoustics in various parts of your Lordships' House, not least in the Committee Rooms and one in particular which the noble Lord has not mentioned; namely, the Moses Room. Extensive activities have taken place over the years to try to improve these matters. We know that some improvements have been made. I take the noble Lord's point. I cannot guarantee that we shall be able to put in further improvements or the volumes of money which the European Parliament might be able to put in. We shall look at what the noble Lord has said and see whether further improvements can be made in future.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge: My Lords, may I return for a moment—it is a long time since we discussed this point—to the matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe, about buying a position in the picture? It seems to me to be an absolutely improper idea. I would like to be in the picture, but I would not dream of paying money to do so and I hope that nobody else will.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I have already explained that quite considerable attention has been given to this point. I sought to explain the way in which it arose. I know that your Lordships—including myself—are not invariably guided or persuaded by what happens in another place, but that is what happened there. We need to be very conscious of demands on public funds.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

3.52 p.m.

The Lord Advocate (Lord Rodger of Earlsferry): My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to

20 Jul 1995 : Column 384

speak in Committee on recommitment. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of recommitment be discharged.

Moved, That the order of recommitment be discharged.—(Lord Rodger of Earlsferry.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee on recommitment. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of recommitment be discharged.

Moved, That the order of recommitment be discharged.—(Lord Rodger of Earlsferry.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on recommitment).—(Lord Rodger of Earlsferry.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee (on recommitment) accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 42 agreed to.

Clause 43 [Arrangements where children arrested]:

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 29, line 44, leave out ("sitting summarily").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment corrects an error in the consolidation. This amendment, as with the other amendments tabled in my name to this Bill, and the Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, have been considered by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. I can inform the Committee that he is content that the amendments do not alter the character of the respective Bills. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 2:


Page 30, line 9, leave out from ("Reporter") to end of line 19.

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment is necessary in consequence of an amendment made in your Lordships' House to the Bill which yesterday became the Children (Scotland) Act, which amends the legislation being consolidated. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 43, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 44 to 116 agreed to.

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Clause 117 [Presence of appellant or applicant at hearing]:

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 3:


Page 79, line 35, at end insert:
("(9) When the High Court fixes the date for the hearing of an appeal, or of an application under section 111(2) of this Act, the Clerk of Justiciary shall give notice to the Crown Agent and to the solicitor of the convicted person, or to the convicted person himself if he has no known solicitor.").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment inserts material which was omitted in error from the consolidation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 117, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 118 to 271 agreed to.

Clause 272 [Evidence of children: special provisions]:

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 4:


Page 177, line 39, leave out ("or is likely to be").

The noble and learned Lord said: Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 correct an error in the way in which the consolidation deals with amendments made by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1995. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 5:


Page 178, line 17, after ("been") insert ("or is likely to be")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 272, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses and schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

3.57 p.m.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on recommitment).—(Lord Rodger of Earlsferry.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.

Schedules 1 to 3 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 59, line 36, leave out ("92") and insert ("100").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment is necessary in consequence of amendments made in another place to the Bill which yesterday became the Pensions Act 1995. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an amendment.

20 Jul 1995 : Column 386

Disability Discrimination Bill

4 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 34 [The National Disability Council]:

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, in calling Amendment No. 86A, I should point out that if it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 88.

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 86A:


Page 26, line 5, leave out subsection (2) and insert:
("(2) It shall be the duty of the Council—
(a) to work towards the elimination of discrimination disability; and
(b) to keep under review the working of this Act, and when they are so required to do so by the Secretary of State or otherwise think it necessary, to draw up and submit to the Secretary of State proposals for amending this Act.
(2A) In discharging these duties the Council shall have the following powers—
(a) to investigate such complaints as are made to them of failure to comply with any provision of this Act in an individual case, and where it seem appropriate, conciliate in relation to such complaints;
(b) to provide assistance, including legal and financial assistance, to disabled persons in enforcing their rights under this Act;
(c) to provide advice and assistance to businesses in complying with their duties under this Act;
(d) to undertake or assist (financially or otherwise) the undertaking by other persons of any research and any educational activities, which appear to the Council necessary or expedient for the purposes of subsection (2) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 89, 90 and 100. Grouped with these amendments is an amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady O'Cathain, Amendment No. 91. I should start by apologising to the House for the number of alterations that have been made to the group of amendments between Committee stage and today. That has happened because we have been trying to take into account all that was said in Committee and all that people wanted.

At the moment the council can only advise, it cannot act to prevent discrimination, and it can only advise the Secretary of State; it cannot give advice to businesses or disabled people. It has no remit to cover the employment aspects of the Bill. In other words, at the moment it has a very narrow role. The amendments would broaden this role beyond that of purely advising the Secretary of State. Most importantly, they give the NDC powers to advise and support businesses and disabled people.

Businesses are very worried about where they can get advice from. Representatives from the CBI and from the Employers Forum on Disability made this clear when they came to talk to the all-party group last month. The CBI calls for consistent support throughout the UK,

20 Jul 1995 : Column 387

coherent across employment and access issues, readily accessible at local and national level, available to providers of goods and services, and employers. With these amendments, the council's assistance to disabled people could include carrying out investigations into complaints, providing conciliation, and providing legal and financial assistance so that the disabled person could enforce the right not to be discriminated against.

The Government have said that employers and disabled people will get advice on employment issues from PACTs and ACAS. They have given no indication of who is going to provide advice on access to goods and services. My noble friend Lord Mackay said that PACTs and ACAS have adequate resources to meet the obligations placed upon them. That is not the experience of disability organisations, which are often being contacted by disabled people having difficulty getting what they need through their local PACTs. PACTs have been repeatedly criticised by both disabled people and employers for being under-trained and under-resourced. I note that the CBI wants assurances that the funding of ACAS and PACTs will be expanded to cover their new obligations. The employers forum points out that it was because employers found it so difficult to find advice and support on disability that it—the employers forum—was founded.

I understand that 10,000 telephone calls were received seeking advice and guidance when the codes of practice to the Sex Discrimination Act were issued. This legislation is in many ways more complicated in that it requires businesses to make adjustments. Therefore, there are likely to be more queries. Where can businesses go for expert and consistent advice on their rights and obligations?

Businesses will not only have to act in accordance with the statute; they will also have to keep up with the way in which the law has been interpreted by the tribunals and courts. Many of the concepts in this law are new and there are a number of key areas where the bare outline of the statute will be filled in through interpretation by the tribunals and courts. Who is going to advise employers on recent industrial tribunal cases and the policies and procedures they need?

On goods and services, the Bill says that the Secretary of State may make arrangements for the provision of advice and assistance to persons with a view to promoting settlements. My noble friend Lord Mackay said on 13th June that the Government would be establishing a network of advice points on the right of access to goods and services and these would be readily accessible and locally available, but he then went on to admit that the Government were only currently exploring how this network will be provided. He said that he was sure there would be plenty of organisations that would be prepared to help once the Bill had become law, but went on to say:


    "I do not have a crystal ball. I do not know who will be prepared to provide the advice".—[Official Report, 13/6/95; col. 1699.]

My noble friend Lord Mackay also said that the local advice points had to be in place before the first provisions of the Act came into force, which he said would be in the second half of next year. This means

20 Jul 1995 : Column 388

that government are expecting to establish a network of advice points between November and next summer, through organisations that have yet to be identified.

Few disability organisations have a network of local branches. Most disability organisations have expertise in one particular disability. Few local branches or local organisations have the resources necessary to cope with all the inquiries that are likely to arise. Most have no staff; others are staffed by volunteers. Of course local disability organisations will try to help disabled people who contact them, but they will not have the resources, breadth of knowledge or legal expertise to deal with the sort of issues that are likely to arise.

In 1988 a Coopers & Lybrand report produced for the Department of Health criticised existing information services for their fragmentation and uneven quality. It also emphasised that the profusion of organisations meant that the cost of providing information was higher than necessary. Having a number of different organisations providing information and support is likely to lead to conflicting advice.

Employers recognise the importance of good support services, not only to themselves but also to disabled people. Northern Foods states:


    "we know that dealing with claimants who do not have access to expert help only results in an additional cost burden in terms of time and resources on the employer".

IBM said:


    "If the new legislative framework is to have credibility in the eyes of both employers and disabled people it must be seen to be backed by the same commitment to guidance, support and enforcement which underpins the EOC and the CRE".

The lack of legal support for disabled people is of particular concern. Who will help disabled people who feel that they have been discriminated against bring a legal case to an industrial tribunal (where there is no legal aid) or to court? Without support many disabled people will shy away from going to court. Research has shown that without an adequate system of representation it is very difficult for an individual to prove discrimination. A spokesperson for British Rail said:


    "Without the force of a law enforcing body businesses will not comply with the legislation".

Another power that this amendment would give the NDC is to carry out or commission independent research and undertake educational activities. Experience both in the USA and here has shown how vital these are to securing implementation. I know that the CBI is particularly concerned about this role, and I am happy to support Amendment No. 88 in the name of my noble friend Lady O'Cathain, which also gives the council powers to initiate independent research.

Under the Bill as currently drafted the power to advise the Secretary of State for Employment about employment, self-employment and training of disabled people rests with the National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Many Members of both Houses have expressed concern that two separate bodies will be advising two different Ministers. Presumably it will be the new Department for Education and Employment that will now deal with the employment parts of the Bill—though industrial

20 Jul 1995 : Column 389

tribunals will now come under the Department of Trade and Industry, and health and safety will be under the Department of Environment.

Employers are certainly concerned. Both the Employers Forum and the CBI have urged the Government to look again at this aspect. The Employer's Forum says


    "A central authoritative body is required to draw together both sides of the Bill's provisions (employment and access to goods and services) and to assure the successful and coherent delivery of the Bill's worthy aims".

The CBI says


    "the CBI believes that the NDC should be an authoritative body able to offer consistent advice across the fields of employment and goods and services".

The NACEPD does not have the remit to combat discrimination or to monitor the legislation. Nor does it have the resources. It is only able to advise the Government, and the Government can ignore its advice—as of course they have done on the Bill because NACEPD has also called on the Government to set up a single authoritative body with enforcement powers, to cover all aspects including employment.

In his response to my amendments in Committee my noble friend said that the Government had a three-pronged approach: a powerful body to advise government, information for business and disabled people, and conciliation, advice and support to help resolve disputes. But the NDC will not be powerful: it will have very limited resources and no independent status. It will not even have its own budget to commission research. Neither disabled people nor businesses are satisfied that the arrangements for information, advice and support will be adequate. In the case of access to goods and services those arrangements are not even in place. Without good quality advice and appropriate support services the law is unlikely to function effectively. On conciliation, the Government propose that ACAS should deal with cases, but ACAS is already struggling to cope with rising numbers of employment cases and lacks the necessary expertise. There are no proposals as to who will provide conciliation in the area of access to goods and services. The Government's three-pronged approach has, I am afraid, failed to impress businesses and disabled people. Nor does it impress me.

In my amendments I have sought to cover the concerns that those groups have expressed. They have cross-party support. They have the support of the All Party Disablement Group. Sir John Hannam, its co-chairman, has written to Members of this House to say that the group believes that it is essential that the powers of the council are strengthened. He writes that members of the group fear that the lack of a central authoritative body is likely to undermine the legislation. Giving the council enforcement powers is also supported in a paper, entitled New Abilities, produced by the Bow Group.

These amendments concentrate on information, advice and support. The investigative powers are restricted to investigating individual complaints of discrimination. They are the powers that a solicitor would have if approached by an individual disabled person wishing to take a case of discrimination to court.

20 Jul 1995 : Column 390

They are not the investigative powers included in my amendments for the Committee stage to which my noble friend Lord Mackay objected. He was concerned that they would create a backlash from businesses. While I do not agree, in the spirit of compromise, I have focused on those powers which I believe to be particularly essential. If these amendments are carried, then disabled people will believe that the Government have listened to their concerns. If these amendments are passed, then employers will be reassured that there will be a single central authoritative body able to give them the advice and support for which they are asking. I do not believe that businesses would be against the powers that these amendments give the NDC. I know that businesses and the Government want the Bill to succeed, and to bring an end to discrimination against disabled people. These amendments will help achieve that aim, and I hope that the House will give them their support. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth): My Lords, I give my wholehearted support to the amendments so clearly and forcefully explained by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen. In Committee I expressed my concern about who would advise individual disabled people in the area of goods and services, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, has already said, the Minister said that he did not have a crystal ball and could not predict who would do that.

It was only Tuesday night, when the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, spoke about the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, having departed from the Bill to the Lottery and the RSC, that I started to wonder whether the noble Lord had still been able to help his noble friend the Minister: has Mystic Mac now got his crystal ball? Or perhaps a quick trip to the blasted heath has brought enlightenment to the Thane of Ardbrecknish. I hope that we will be told.

Today I should like to change tack and focus my concern on the fact that the National Disability Council was not to cover employment unless NACEPD were abolished. Those arrangements have three basic flaws. First, the Bill's implementation needs to be overseen in its entirety. The abolition of discrimination cannot be divided neatly into topics. For example, one cannot separate access to a shop for its disabled customers and access to the shop for its disabled employees. That is why there has been so much consistent campaigning for comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. I am therefore delighted that the Government have expanded the Bill to cover education and transport.

The second flaw arises if NACEPD is abolished eventually, leaving the NDC to handle all areas covered by the Bill. That stems from a mistaken assumption that by eliminating discrimination one solves all the problems faced by disabled people. NACEPD has kept an eye on sickness benefit and the jobseekers' allowance. It has been involved with the careers service. It will still be necessary.

The third flaw arises from the significant difference in composition of the proposed NDC and NACEPD. The former will need full-time paid disability experts; the latter is served by dedicated part-timers who give their services free. I feel strongly that disabled people will end up frustrated and confused if we have two bodies to

20 Jul 1995 : Column 391

try to oversee and monitor the Act. We need a strong NDC to attend professionally to all areas covered by the Bill and to help individual disabled people. I hope that noble Lords will give the amendments their strong support.


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